Garlic is to Dracula as Garam Masala is to Benjamin

If you, intrepid adventurer, encounter a group of rabid Benjamins pursuing you down a dark ally late at night and fear for your life, don’t reach for the garlic. Coriander will also provide no defense. They will simply mock you if you present them with turmeric. Nay brave traveler, pull out the garam masala and bid them return to whence they came.

Garam masala, you see, is anathema to the Benjamin. He will flee not just your person, not just the local area, but as far as possible to escape the smell. If you open it in his domicile he will open all the windows, turn on all the fans, light all the candles, and spray cinnamon scented air freshener in every room without fear of the spray turning into a flame thrower with all the lit candles. Even after the smell as abated he will insist that it remains saturated in the surrounding fabrics and you would be well suited to flee the area in case he decides a purifying burning of those objects is required.

It is still unclear which of the many spices that commonly make up garam masala causes the violent reaction. Commercial mixtures can include dried red chili peppers, dried garlic, ginger powder, sesame, mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, bay leaves, star anise and fennel. Benjamin scholars have confirmed that most of these alone will not suffice to get the desired turning. There are reports that of all the previously listed spices only star anise and fennel are likely candidates for evoking the violent reaction by themselves. Or perhaps each individually is useless and it is the collection of all of them together that are necessary.

In either case, brave adventurer, you’re best served stocking up on garam masala should you venture into areas where rabid Benjamins are known to reside — or you risk more than just your life, you risk your wardrobe!

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I'm a gay geek living in Seattle, WA.

5 thoughts on “Garlic is to Dracula as Garam Masala is to Benjamin”

  1. Was this a double-blind experiment with a control group of Benjamins given placebo spices, or more like Jane-Goodall-style Benjamins-in-their-natural-habit documentary research? :)

    I can’t say it’s quite *that* potent, but my reaction to the smell of sauerkraut is similarly visceral. Jen loves the stuff but thankfully doesn’t make it often. Blech.


    1. Very much the Jane-Goodall-style research. And technically I am assuming that the reaction was due to the garam masala. The only other two spices in the dish that we hadn’t cooked with before were coriander and turmeric, both of which I had him smell and it didn’t elicit a reaction. After getting a negative on the other two I decided not to risk my health for a positive analysis by having him smell the garam masala.


    1. That’s the other funny part – it was in a recipe that Benjamin selected. It had to marinade for 4 hours so I started it during the day. When he came home it was still in a sealed container in the refrigerator and he had that aforementioned violent reaction when he walked in the door. Needless to say we ordered out that night and I cooked the dish later when B wasn’t around!

      The spice itself can’t be all that rare as we got it at Target.


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